- Associated Press - Monday, February 10, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - British curler Vicki Adams shrugged her shoulders, stepped off the ice and exchanged a joke with her teammates.

Her team had just lost to fierce rival Sweden in their opening game of the Olympic women’s tournament but if there was disappointment, it didn’t show.

The message to the Swedes was clear: We’ll see you again - probably in the Feb. 20 final.

In a heavyweight matchup between two favorites for the gold medal, Sweden landed an early psychological blow on the world champions by winning 6-4 to make the ideal start to the defense of its title.

Neither team was reading too much into it, though.

“It’s nice to beat them,” Sweden skip Margaretha Sigfridsson said. “But we usually meet them more than once during a championship, so we will meet them again.

“The final, maybe.”

Another team making a statement of intent at the Ice Cube Curling Center on Monday was Canada.

Jennifer Jones‘ foursome crushed 2010 bronze-medalist China 9-2 in a shortened game that was conceded after just seven of 10 ends because of the huge differential.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better start,” said Jones, a long-time star of Canadian curling who was nevertheless making her Olympic debut.

Switzerland beat the United States 7-4 and Russia delighted its raucous fans by defeating Denmark 6-4 in the other first round-robin games.

The curlers struggled to make themselves heard on the ice as Russian supporters made a thunderous noise inside the 3,000-seat arena, which was half-empty for the men’s games in the morning but was close to full for the women’s curlers.

Sigfridsson and her team never lost focus, though.

They went 3-0 up after three ends and although Britain chipped away at the deficit to make it 3-3 after the sixth, Maria Prytz made a sublime draw into the target to win two crucial points in the seventh.

British skip Eve Muirhead flopped in the Vancouver Games in 2010 when favorite for gold as a 19-year-old, but much more is expected of her four years on. She cut an exasperated figure in the final two ends, kicking the air and hanging her head.

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